Buffalo Sabres General Manager Gerry Meehan had something of a master plan in the summer of 1991. He was said to be interested in adding someone to the organization to take his place.
Then some day Meehan could move up to the position of president of the Sabres, with the new person ready to serve as general manager. By chance, there was someone who was very interested in the job.
John Muckler had coached the Edmonton Oilers to the Stanley Cup in 1990, and had worked as an assistant coach during the Oilers' glory years in the '80s. But he'd never be in charge of the hockey department there as long as Glen Sather was around.
So when the Sabres came calling, Muckler was ready to listen.
Buffalo hired Muckler, adding another top hockey man to its list of hirings over the years (Punch Imlach, Scotty Bowman).
"They [the Sabres] have talent," Muckler said the day he was hired. "They are at a point where they have to be taken a step further. They have to be taught how to win and there's no reason we can't do that. You have to have talent, but I think this team has that or I wouldn't have come here. As far as the other things go, character can be taught and winning is also a learning process."
Muckler once was quoted as saying that Buffalo would have a parade for a team that merely won a playoff series. He did that, as coach, in 1993.
As a GM, Muckler assembled the team that won the division championship in 1997.
-- Budd Bailey
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